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“The building up is a disaster with the average defender. They always look only one line forward, instead of two. If the defender passes into midfield, the midfielder has his back to the opponents goal and will have to turn and look to move forward. This takes too much time in modern football. The ball needs to go to the strikers, so they can bounce the ball back to a midfielder who then will be facing the opponents goal and who can immediately attack.”
“It’s a simple rule in football: the third man determines what you can or can’t do. But we seem to forget to teach our youngster this. And this is a dangerous situation. We now have two generations defenders (Mathijsen/Ooijer/Bouma vs Vlaar/Boula/Jaliens/Heijtinga) who do not have that skill. Our youth coaches need a long look in the mirror.”
"Our system was also a solution to a physical problem. How can you play for 90 minutes and remain strong? If I as a left back run 70 meters up the wing it's not good if I immediately have to run back 70 to my starting place. So if the left midfielder takes my place and left winger takes the midfield position, then it shortens the distance. That was the philosophy." (krol)
" It was about making space, coming into space, and organizing space-like architecture on the football pitch. "(barry hulshoff)
"My idol, my father was Rinus Michels, who was runner-up with Holland in 1974 and the 1988 European champions. It is the same way in Munich. Only Michels was too defensive, I'm more attacking. It has made us popular and successful."(van gaal)
'You have to fit 11 players together. You can't have 11 individuals. You need to have a team. That's why someone from outside needs to adapt to the majority. If the majority don't know where they come from, because they're all different, then what do they adapt to?'
“I respect Ronaldinho a lot. He is an awesome player, but I have talked to him about his weaknesses. He sometimes takes the pace out of the play and his team mates can’t function at their best if he does that.”
Experience. You did or did not.

"In a 4-4-2 system should mainly walked and pulled. But once the opponent puts pressure problems arise. Then there is no more successful Combination simply because the distances are no longer correct,"
"It's the wisest thing to listen as much as possible because that is good for your general knowledge, if you have ten percent of learning, then you're already way ahead of the others."
"Cruyff has never noticed that you run laps better, in modern football is about short quick sprints."
A hard pass is better than soft.
Offsides is not defensive but an offensive weapon.

Right-legged players heads the easiest on their left shoulder, there you can look for as a defender. You violation and violation.
The man without the ball is much more important than the one with ball. The player without the ball should just be able to see that hole and thereby increase the man with ball gets a chance to score or a pass can give.
You should not only defend the ball but also your position
If you lost the ball in front, you should not go backwards as a defense but just walk forward. It's called defending forward. If you do not, it may be impossible society the gap between the attack and the defense amounted to a counterpunch.

For a defender, it is difficult to make them well. Someone down the middle into two spades, that's not art. But a push, give a good push, which is one of the hardest things in football.
A striker must be two-legged. That is to defend it. Trickiest If a striker bipedalism is not then you 50% of your scoring ability lost. So you can lose a match.
A player must play at any position anywhere. Only then he learns how his opponent plays and learns to recognize weaknesses and there he can benefit in the future.
It belongs to the laws of football that often follows a big disappointment for success.
If you choose the best player for each position, you do not have strong team but a team like sand falling apart.
The base is the ball under control as soon as possible so you have a little more time to look.
The truth is never exactly as you think he would be
There are many people who can say a bad football team plays, there are few people who can say why they play badly and there are only a few people who can say what should be done to make them play better.
“To avoid losing the ball and being caught on the counter attack, the concept of the “third man” is useful: throw the ball in front of him in a l wide area. You avoid risks. When you have the ball, the first thing you have to do is look further away from you. He probably has some space in front of him. Normally play to the man closer to you or available, but if the first thing you can do is play long, play long. That is the way you avoid counter attacks.”
Playing the ball back to the goalie doesn’t count as ball possession.
"4-5-1?" he says, shrugging the shoulders that made fools of a thousand defenders. "Never. It was always 4-3-3 for me as a player and as manager, just like [Frank] Rijkaard at Barcelona. With 4-3-3, it's much easier to make combinations going forward. With only one forward, who is he going to pass to? Who is he going to make combinations with? Football is about having the best offensive play possible. I always like to play offensive football and nobody will convince me otherwise." Not even given the success that Jose Mourinho has had at Chelsea with his modified 4-5-1 - 4-3-3, when Damien Duff and Arjen Robben are pushing up on the full-backs) - it seems
“I don’t like the 4-2-3-1 system. The two holding midfielders will be marked and won’t be enabled against Italy to build up. So, the build up will be through the full backs. And I don’t like to see that. The full backs you need to use in the offensive bit. When they find space, they move up and can cross the ball in. Build up needs to go through the middle. In my view, when you’re in possession, the field needs to be as big as possible, if you lose possession you need to make the field small. With two holding midfielders, you will automatically limit your “widening” abilities, they kind of block the back four, leaving too much space in front of those two to defend by our creative players. I do think Marco agrees with me but he wanted to give the players their way. And, it is possible to play like this, but you need to operate as a unit. And I’m not sure if they can. To me, the 4-2-3-1 is a solution to compensate for the lack of build up from the back. In my Barcelona team, I had two central defenders who were weak in defense: Guardiola and Koeman. But they could read the game and prevent the opponent from attacking by their positioning and my midfield was good in their defensive tasks. Marco should consider to play Engelaar as center back, but that is too late now.”
“With Robben out, this disadvantage should be turned into an advantage. Your deep penetration man is out. There is no alternative like him. So, you have to work with what you’ve got and Oranje has a lot of creative dribblers and passers. So, put Van Nistelrooy up front and let the creative players behind him run rampant. That could put a lot of opponents off. Be unpredictable.”

“Look at the two friendlies against Switzerland and Germany. Both teams did something that we couldn’t handle. They had the balls to pressure us early. We immediately came into trouble. Obviously, we missed big name players, but this lesson still needs to be learned. I believe Germany and Denmark, both in our group at the EC, could play against us like this again. And if our build up is slow, the effectiveness of our creative forwards will decrease significantly. Van Persie got a lot of criticism last World Cup, and I believe it was because we played to defensively and passively. We became a counter team. Our best players are up front though. They need the ball and they need it quick. I love that fact. All nations would love to have our problem, even Germany, Italy, Spain and England. Spain has sensational midfielders but could use a Huntelaar or Van Persie. I believe we need to play our strongest team, with the best players. We need to field on holding midfielder – and we can field one who can play football too! And take the game to the opponent. Relentlessly.”

We need one good controller in midfield and two creative players on the wide midfield spots, like Barcelona does. Or Man United and Man City for that matter. This way, if the wide players have the ability to run as well, it’s much easier to control the opponent, to put pressure on the ball early and to play with forward pressure

When playing for Feyenoord in 1983, his last season as a player, Cruyff once received the ball from a Feyenoord corner. Cruyff found himself as the last man with no teammates between him and his team’s goalkeeper, leaving an ocean of space behind him. Cruyff couldn’t find a free teammate to pass to so he decided to kick the ball hard and high up in the stands. Several Feyenoord players yelled at Cruyff: “Why the hell did you do that? Cruyff explained: “We had no one available to pass to. I could’ve passed the ball and lost it. Then they’d have a huge counter-attack opportunity, with me as the last defender and all that space between me and our goal. Now, we get to re-group, get the ball back and set up a new attack. More effective this way…”

That is how they exploit spaces in front of the midfield. If they played in the other team’s half more often those spaces wouldn’t exist.
Despite recognising their effort, you can disarm an English side that presses and looks for the long ball by keeping possession and moving the ball around quickly.
And if you know they will expend all their energy on closing down and chasing long balls, then you know where to beat them: by playing the ball horizontally (vs counter attack)

“Yeah, he was the guy that most had the look of a dumb bean that I ever met but also the quickest to execute. When the goalkeeper got the ball, he immediately ran to pressure him. That way he accomplished two things. First, a benefit to the team: by harassing the GK he prevented him from launching quick accurate long passes and gave us time to organize in the back. If the GK passed it long, the ball generally fell to us whereas if he passed it short then everybody else was positioned to pressure or steal the ball, [I quoted this part before]Secondly, Romario pressured due in part to the benefit to himself. He knew that if he pressured the opposing goalkeeper then we would get the ball back faster and he would save himself having to backtrack 30 meters only to have to run them back again. Football, as I see it, is that simple”

“What did Koeman do at Barca? He played a maximum of 5 meters behind the center of the field. When he advanced only a few meters, the team as a whole would move with him and utilize only half the field. Minimum physical wear but maximum effectiveness. Romario pressured due in part to the benefit to himself. He knew that if he pressured the opposing goalkeeper then we would get the ball back faster and he would save himself having to backtrack 30 meters only to have to run them back again. Football, as I see it, is that simple.”

“There is no greater medal than to be acclaimed for your style.”

“Football is simple. But nothing is more difficult than playing simple football.”

“Every trainer talks about movement, about running a lot. I say don’t run so much, football is a game you play with your brains.”

“To play football well, you need good players. But good players nearly always suffer from a lack of efficiency. They always want to do things more beautifully than strictly necessary.”

“The hardest thing about an easy match is making a weak opponent play poor. A poor player isn’t poor because he tends to kick the ball in his own goal. It’s because when you put intense pressure on him, he loses control. So you have to increase the tempo of the game and he’ll automatically give the ball away.”

“If you play on possession, you don’t have to defend, because there’s only one ball”

“You have got to shoot, or you can’t score.”

“Technique is not being able to juggle a ball 1000 times. Anyone can do that by practicing. Then you can work in the circus. Technique is passing the ball with one touch, with the right speed, at the right foot of your team mate”

“When you’re playing against team that has two great central defenders, the best option is to play without a striker.”

“If you want to play quicker you can start running faster, but it’s the ball that decides the speed of the game.”

“If my forward arrives in a one vs one situation, I always say: ‘let him work it out.’ Then my players say: But we can help him!’. My reply is: First, there’s a good chance you’ll only run in his way, and as a second attacker you’re drawing a second defender with you, and two vs two is harder than one vs one.’”

“At Barcelona I always instructed Koeman to shoot the first free kick into the wall as hard as possible. The next time the players in the wall would be smart enough not to come rushing out again.”

“In small space a player has to be capable of acting quickly. A good player who needs too much time can suddenly become a poor player.”

“A counter-attack can only arise when you make a mistake. That’s why there are rules. A horizontal pass? Prohibited. In my line-up there are as many lines as possible. Because you must have the option to pass the ball forward, even if it’s a meter. Because then I can still make up for the loss of possession. After a horizontal pass this is impossible.”

“Players that aren’t true leaders but try to be, are always bashing other players after a mistake. True leaders on the pitch assume others will make mistakes.”

“In my teams, the goalie is the first attacker, and the striker the first defender.”

“Football consists of different elements: technique, tactics and stamina. Stamina I have, tactics I have and technique I’ve always had. There are some people who might have better technique than me and some may be fitter than me, but the main thing is tactics. With most players, tactics are missing. You can divide tactics into insight, trust and daring. In the tactical area, I think I just have more than most players. You probably can’t teach personal tactical insight. At most, if a person has some, you can perhaps influence it a little bit. It’s very hard.”

“Tactics interest me. Almost no one can explain team tactics easily. I’m interested in that stuff. The more easily you can explain it, the better the players will understand it”.

“A player who loses the ball a lot easier is easily called “too light”, but often losing the ball has to do with personal tactical insight.”

“I never practise tricks. I play very simply. That’s what it’s all about. Playing simple football is the hardest thing. That’s the problem of all trainers. Simple play is also the most beautiful. How often do you see a pass of more than 40 metres when 20 metres is enough? Or a one-two in the penalty area when there are seven people around you when a simple wide pass around the seven would be a solution? The solution that seems the simplest is in fact the most difficult one.”

“I think everyone should be able to play in all different positions on the field. I’m not just saying this. It has to be based on real knowledge. If, as a forward, in certain situations, I have to play in the left back position, then I have to be able to function as a left back, with all the consequences. So I need to know: should I play for position? Or try to cover people? Is it responsible to try to go past someone? Or should I just kick the ball into the stand? And if Ruud Krol plays in attack, he has to know what my specific tasks are. Should he chase the ball? Or should he come back a little bit? That’s why it is so important everyone listens when you have a tactical talk. The left winger can’t go to sleep when Michaels talks about the right back.”

“The special thing about the Dutch team is movement. Everybody moves. That’s the basis of it. If you say at any given time moment: Cruyff is playing too deep, he should be in midfield, then you don’t understand it. You can only switch positions if one is free. We don’t play normal midfield positions. That gives opposition defenders a problem because one of us will come from the right, another from the left, or all five through the centre, and the defenders have to look out. Plus, if they follow me, they’re one man short in defence. If everybody moves forward, you need an extra defender, so the goalkeeper has to be able to play as well. It’s as simple as that. The next thing is that people have to run with the ball, and they should run just as much without the ball, which means that you always have two or three people you can pass to. It makes things easy, but the hard thing is to make sure you are free – to lose your marker.”

“If you have a midfield player who comes into the attack and then has to run back 80 metres, well he can do that three times and then you may as well forget about him, he has to take a rest. You need to be practical all the time. It’s better if the same player only needs to run 20 metres, or you can make it even less by saying: come back slowly because I’m already there and I only have to run 5 metres to take care of his position, so he has to run back 10 metres. It means you can keep going longer. The only special thing I have is insight: I see things a fraction earlier, and can play the ball a fraction earlier to where it should be.”

“They don’t understand (the players) that you you’ll never stop talking about certain patterns as long as they don’t understand the characteristics of a particular tactic. Tactically, some players have almost no idea. It’s ridiculous that in those three months I had to tell them about tactics all the time, and then they’re relieved that for once (when he can’t go on camp with them) I can’t see how they’re coping with their profession.”

“I’ve always told Piet (goalkeeper): if you continuously blame your defence, then you’re just hiding your own failures. And in general I have a problem with players who complain for their own sake, especially goalkeepers who after a goal or a good save start screaming at their defenders in public, you know, players who cant lead, but think they can always start moaning at others when they make mistakes. Real leaders on the field simply calculate when people make mistakes: that’s why I thought Jongbloed and Bals were such good keepers.”

“I said to Piet: we play attacking football at Ajax, so you shouldn’t stay on your line. You should try to find your position around the edge of the area. Then you have to continuously give directions and six or seven times you’ll need to run out fast to make a save. Above all, you have to learn that the great fear of goalkeepers that they will be beaten by a ball lobbed over their head from the half way line is not based in reality. If he plays like that, in the interests of the team, then it doesn’t matter – and I told him this – it doesn’t matter if once in a while he doesn’t save a high ball.”

“If you think your not playing very well, you can compensate a lot by working. Then you can show your team you’re important all the time.”

“When you lose the ball, with one step you can avoid having to run 30 metres. As a winger you can stand in such a way that the defender firstly can’t run forward and secondly can’t get the ball. When you do that you show you’re involved in the game, that you’re fighting for the team and that one step, which doesn’t seem so important at the time, can be so important.”

“Balance in a team is so important. In principle I don’t like attacking backs, because they fail as attackers and as defenders as well. In the first place, a defender has to know how to defend: he has to make sure he keep’s the man he’s marking out of the game. Only then, if it’s possible, should he think about attacking.”

“I was too small myself when I was 14 or 15. Small people also have two advantages: because they are small, they have to watch what’s around them on the pitch and they have to be quick because otherwise someone will walk all over them. So their vision is very well developed. Secondly, someone who’s technically strong but physically weak is usually two-footed.”
Every advantage has its disadvantage (or the other way around, depending on the situation). Once, an opponent of Barca had their starplayer fit, just in time for the match. So, the interviewer said: that’s a disadvantage eh, that player Whathisname is fit? And Cruyff said: no it’s an advantage. Their medical staff have been working so hard to get him fit, that most players will want to pass the ball to him, to make it worth everybody’s while. So, we’ll know how they play. We’ll mark this guy well and win the game… And they did.
Avoiding to play bad is easier than trying to play good. (Huh?? )
I don’t make a lot of mistakes, because it’s hard for me to be wrong.
Once, during a match analysis, one of the players tried to score a goal from a distance and kicked the ball way up in the stands. The commentator was appalled by the shocking shot and asked Cruyff’s opinion. JC: well, you can’t score goals if you don’t take a shot. At least this guy tried. The others just pass the ball on…
This is a very bad goal... Once JC was watching a match and saw a team score a goal. During the analysis he proved that it was a “bad” goal, meaning they could’ve scored earlier in that situation, with less risk involved. The players took more time and effort to – in the end – score the goal anyway, but JC labelled it a “bad goal”.
Before I make a mistake, I see it coming and then don’t make it.
These are Utopia’s who never happen. Something like, wishful thinking, I suppose. Take note of the “who”. That in itself is very Cruyffian. He would always say: “the ball, who…” or “the situation, who….” When asked about it, he’d say: yeah I know it’s wrong officially, but it sounds better….
They can never beat you, buy you can lose against them…. JC answered a reporter in 1995, days before Ajax won the Champions League against AC Milan. What were Ajax chances against the Italians, was the question. The answer is so true. Everybody got what he meant. Except for the reporter…
Cruyff almost never uses the words I, we or us, but always you. Even if he talks about himself, he uses you. So, the first time you hear him do this, you think…hang on….who is this about, anyway. When his son Jordi was injured and needed medical help, the interviewer asked what Jordi and Johan were planning to do. The answer: “well, the both of you aren’t doctors, so you talk to different doctors and you listen and then you make the decision.” This sounds very strange, and in a way distant, as if JC can only open up if he pretends to be talking about someone else. Bizar fact is, that most players who worked with Cruyff (van Basten, Van ‘t Schip, Wouters, Koeman, Vanenburg, Rijkaard) all seem to be doing this, now…
In 1995, JC was in Holland preparing for a new season with Barca, there were rumours that Real Madrid could go bankrupt. The Dutch interviewer asked the question: JC, do you think Real Madrid could go bankrupt? JC: “O yeah, I read that in the papers. Made nice headlines. Well, I’ve got a question for you… Can you imagine a Liga in Spain without Real Madrid?” The interviewer said: No. JC again: “well, there you go. There’s your answer. More questions?”
You can understand it, once you get it (or the other way around). Talking about tactics, JC said litterally that it (the sacred knowledge of soccer) is only open for people who actually “see” it…
Technique is not being able to hold the ball in the air 1000 times. Anyone can do that by practicing. Then you can work in the circus. Technique is passing the ball with one touch, with the right speed, at the right foot of your partner…
Football is a simple game. It’s just very hard to play it simple.
Football is a game of time and space.
I can manage pretty well in all aspects of the game. Kicking the ball is the least important one.
People always said i was so quick. But they missed the point. I wasn’t that quick, I just started my run a fraction of second earlier than my opponent. So I looked quick. It’s all in the eyes.
Football is a mindgame. You play with your brain.
Football is about making mistakes. Who makes the most, loses the game.
Coincidence is logical. Some people like to bring “coincidence” into the equation to clarify certain events. JC would always say: but coincidence is logical. If I kick the ball on goal from 30 meters, I will probably not score. If I do that 20 times in the match, the chances are high that one of the 20 balls will go in.
When you play a match, it is statistically proven that players actually have the ball 3 minutes on average. The best players – the Zidanes, Ronaldinhos, Gerrards – will have the ball maybe 4 minutes. Lesser players – defenders – probably 2 minutes. So, the most important thing is: what do you do those 87 minutes when you do not have the ball…. That is what determines wether you’re a good player or not.
I am not religious. In Spain, all 22 players pray for the match and make a cross before they enter the pitch. If that would work, we would only have draws. And we don’t. So, I have proven that there is no such thing as a God you can ask for things.
Principally, I am against everything. Until I decide differently, that I’m pro.
You can’t play dominant football with a 4-4-2 system. The numbers (triangles) on the field don’t match up.
Their defense looked like goat’s cheese. (JC wanted to say Swiss cheese, the Emmenthaler with the huge holes in it.)
The hardest thing for players and humans is to understand that there is nothing to understand…
Spanish players are good to work with. Dutch players already start to say “Yes, but…” when you open your mouth to speak.
When I come home after analyzing a match on tv, my wife asks me: what did you say about the match? I say: I haven’t got a clue.
Ok, to start of…there is only one ball. And you need to have that ball. But the big question is: what do you do with it?
It’s better to go down with your own vision, that with someone else’s.
Take Vialli, he is a great player. I can put a defender on him, but he will be to good and he will beat that defender. That’s logic. So I just make sure the midfielder can’t reach Vialli. If I can stop 50% of the passes going to Vialli, I have diminished his threat by 50%. Simple.
When you lead with 5-0, it’s much more fun for the public to shoot and hit the post instead of scoring a 6th goal. That’s just for the statistics. A ball on the post is more exciting. Especially if you can hear the ball hitting the woodwork.
Playing against 10 is harder than playing against 11 players. You know why? The team with 11 will think “ok, we can take it easy now”, while the team with 10 will think “we really have to work hard now”…
I have seriously considered playing with nine players instead of eleven in some cases. Just to keep them all awake. I’m certain we would have had the same or even better results.
I can’t work at AS Roma. Ever. They have an athletics track around the pitch. I hate that.
I always take my own decisions. When Ajax said I was too old (in 1992), I say: no no, that is something I determine. Not you. (JC made Feyenoord champions of the league in 1993).
It’s simple. It doesn’t matter how many goals they score. As long as you score one more. Than you win.
People who are not of my level, cannot touch my integrity.
I am convinced that you have to do it like I do. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be doing it this way…
Michael Laudrup did not have that primitive anger, the ultimate drive to win. He was an artist. So I needed to make him angry.
Europeans are sore losers. Americans can lose. That’s why we invented the draw. (JC in a discussion with business tycoon Roel Pieper, who replies: Americans compare getting a draw with kissing your sister…).
When you want a good team, you need at least two midfielders who will never score lower than a 7 (on a scale from 1 to 10). You don’t need the best players, 8s and 9s are not necessary. Because these players can also score a 4. That’s why I choose to sell Vanenburg (to PSV) and sign Jan Wouters (from FC Utrecht).
Milanello, that spectacular trainingscomplex of AC Milan… I hate it. It means the team will come to the stadium on Sunday and the dressing rooms, the showers, the massage room, it will all be a bit alien to them. I want my players to smell the dressing room of the stadium where they play every day. That stuff is important to me, when I choose where I want to work.
Interviewer asks JC what was wrong with the two penalties Frank de Boer missed against Italy in 2000: “He didn’t score”.
JC to interviewer while watching the opponent warm up: “Do you see that player? His kicking technique is lousy.” Why is that, the interviewer asks. How did you see that? JC: “I didn’t see it, I heard it. The sound of the shoe against the ball was not the right sound.”
The Technical Director’s job at Ajax was my invention. I needed a diploma for the coach job, which I didn’t have. So I invented that role.
The KNVB (Dutch Football Federation) subpoenaed JC because he did act as coach. JC’s formal defense: “I didn’t coach the players. I explained my trainers what I wanted, and to save some time, I asked the players to sit in, so the trainers didn’t have to repeat my words. It’s called efficiency”.
I don’t think the referee allowed too much. I think he didn’t see it at all. That was the problem.
I always wanted to work with a group of 18 players. No more. Why? Because the majority would like me and the ones who didn’t would be a minority. It’s easier that way.
Interviewer: “You are 3 points behind Real Madrid….”. JC, interrupting: “No no, only 2 points.
We have scored more goals”.
JC to an interviewer who didn’t really understood what JC said: “Listen, if I wanted you to understand it all, I would have explained it better…”
"Do you know how Barcelona win the ball back so quickly? It's because they don't have to run back more than 10 metres as they never pass the ball more than 10 metres."
“The problem with two holding midfielders is quite simple, but somehow many coaches don’t see it. The build up happens to slow. Holding midfielders always need that extra touch. Always need to have a look when they have the ball already. That takes time away. The opponent can position themselves to stop the killer pass and the forwards are all marked. Plus, having two holding midfielders means there is one less creative playmaker. It’s a double edged sword.”
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Level 1 - Backs to the wall football
Think of Mourinho's Inter when facing Barcelona in that Champions League final.

Level 2 - Compactness, organisation, and counter-attacking football.
Defensively
When the team has the time to organise, they will fallback on their own half of the field. • There is limited space between the goal and the defensive line. • When attacking, more players are and will remain behind the ball in comparison to in front of the ball. • On your own half, the marking remains aggressive. • The spaces between the defensive, midfield, and forward lines are as limited as possible. This is a matter of creating a compact defensive block. • The midfield line acts as the first line of defence. This midfield line plays close to the defensive line and thus defends on their own half of the field. • To be able to defend under the pressure of the opponents requires good man-to-man markers and level-headed defenders. • To be able to defend under the pressure of the opponents, it is also required that the tactical coherence between the defenders is optimal. In the manner, you can close down the operational attacking space of the opponents.

Building-up • The emphasis within the build-up of the counter-attack strategy Good ball circulation puts high demands on the quality of the positional play, the mastering of the tempo and the speed of action. • This demands insight to profit from the game situations. You need to have a few very fast attacking players in your team when playing the counter attack style. • They prefer to win the ball during the build-up of the opponents. • When forced to build-up from the back, a super fast transition is required, including good positional play in a fast manner and in a forward direction.

Attacking • Mostly, the fast target player who is good with the ball will be the basis. With the big spaces around him he remains an important target to play the ball to. He takes the pressure off his team by being able to quickly receive the long pass. • A characteristic is the overlapping midfielders and deep sprinting attackers who have a good sense for the tactical spaces and timing. • Many actions are performed at full speed, which is an added difficulty. The trick is to still get the optimal result out of the counter attack. Usually the finishing on goal is done too hastily.

Remarks • Counter attack football places high demands on the team tactical and mental qualities of players. • Counter attack football is easier to train. For example, you are able to start earlier in building set patterns in comparison to the game making strategy. • When being behind the game, a counter attack team has trouble taking the initiative. Against a weaker team, the coach will have to fall back on a more attacking variation of his counter attack style of play. Most of the time this is not very well mastered. They lack the set patterns in their style of play and the specific players to perform this.
Level 3 - Domination, play-making, and circulation football

The play-making strategy.
The play-making strategy is not often seen. This style of football is risky to play and needs to have a lot of players with individual qualities. In most football cultures the coaches are scared to use it... this risky style of play demands individually a lot of football capacity. It entails that you have to operate in small spaces during the build-up and attack and defend large spaces with few players. This style of play requires a methodical process in the youth program, and also specific types of players; such as the wing forwards and defenders who get involved in the attack.

Defensive Guidelines
When losing possession in the attacking phase, the entire team has to be tactically able to defend. Preferably by keeping the opponents in their own half or by dropping back more if you do not succeed in that. This demands good positional play in tactical coherence with each other. • The defensive line need to push up right away towards the midfielders. In general you defend far away from your own goal. • There are 3 or 4 players in the defensive line. The 4th defender will play as a free defender and pushes into the midfield. Defensively this means that you have an extra player to put pressure on the opponent. • The 3-man defensive line must be sharp while defending the spaces and they must be fast. • The keeper acts as a sweeper when a counter attack team unexpectedly plays a long ball through. • The midfield line must have controlling players with tactical insight and discipline who will remain behind the ball during the attack. • No player may get passed in his zone. This is especially a point of attention for the defensively vulnerable forwards. • Players who can regain the ball are indispensable.

Building Up The team must master the 'ball circulation' component to be able to determine the correct moment to start the attack. However, ball circulation is a means, not a goal in itself! To carry the play on the opponents half of the field places high demands of the build-up. There is not much time and space to work in and you have to deal with high defensive pressure. Fast combinations and excellent positional play are a must. Circulation football! To lose possession close to the middle line when building-up is almost 'suicidal' in this risky style of football. One touch passing is also a must in the building-up team function of this strategy. This demands additional tactical insight from the players as situations quickly have to be surveyed. Each player has to anticipate even more. To carry the play means that one time you choose to play in a high tempo and the next time you use delaying tactics to slow the play down. A play-making team must take full advantage of the space and must have defenders who can quickly change the point of attack, wing forwards who remain on the outside for example. • The transition from defence to build-up must be executed very quickly. The team tactical manpower in the centre of the field(central defenders, midfielders and striker) is of great importance. • During the build up, the tactical coherence between the central defenders who must be thinking of playing the ball forward, the attacking midfielders and the central striker is very precise work. • When possession is lost, it starts in the opposite direction. Good ball circulation puts high demands on the quality of the positional play, the mastering of the tempo and the speed of action.
The type of qualities needed in your attacking players are: • Physical strength • The ability to cross 'with feeling', particularly when running at speed • Strong technique • The ability to switch positions (strikers and wide players) • Intelligent running and correct use of space • Strong tactical discipline in your 'wide' players

Find and Exploit Your Opponent’s Weaknesses

Your ability to play a sport well always starts with your own game. Ideally, you possess an arsenal of skills that give you an edge over your opponents. Any weaknesses you have are minimal. Your game is both strong and resilient. Like a tree buffeted by high winds, it remains standing no matter the fierceness of the storm.

But in a contest that pits you against a tough opponent, you also need to consider the nature of your opponent’s abilities and game. You need to understand his or her strengths and weaknesses. By doing so, you can employ tactics that improve your chance of winning. Before or during a contest, try to find and exploit your opponent’s weaknesses. Even the best players have them.

Your Opponent's "Weak" Side

Start by determining whether your opponent has a weak side. Athletes typically have a dominant side and a weak one. For instance, tennis players rarely have equally strong forehand and backhand groundstrokes—one is usually weaker than the other. In many sports, a young athlete’s weak side is the same as the athlete’s non-dominant hand. Right-handed basketball players will usually dribble better with their right hand. Right-footed soccer players will likely dribble the ball better with their right foot. And in both cases, each will find it easier to move to the right (and better protect the ball). For these players, their weakness lies in using their left side and moving in that direction.

So in the above examples, how would you exploit your opponent’s weak side? If the tennis player favors his or her forehand, you would of course hit more balls to the backhand side. For the basketball and soccer players, you would defend them by positioning yourself slightly to their right (“overplaying”) and forcing them to use their weak hand/foot and move to their left.

Other Weaknesses

Your opponent’s weaknesses can lie almost anywhere within his or her game. Like the examples discussed above, they may be obvious. Other defects (like an inability to play well in stressful situations, for instance) may be less obvious. Sometimes these subtle weaknesses won’t appear unless you force your opponent past a certain threshold. Up until that point, your opponent’s play may be flawless. But exert enough pressure over an extended period, and your opponent’s game begins to fall apart. Confidence erodes, self-doubt creeps in, focus is lost, and athletic performance falters.

Here are several other examples of potential weaknesses and ways to exploit them:

• Your opponent has a specific skill area that is exceptionally weak. Similar to having a weak side, an athlete may have a skill area that is extremely weak. Some baseball batters can hit a fastball pitch well, but not a curveball. A basketball guard may play well against a passive zone defense, but regularly commits turnovers when dribbling against a pressure man-to-man defense. An offensive football lineman can pass block against a bull rush, but is unable to handle a speed rush on the edge. Once you identify a skill weakness, go after it! (Throw the curveball, pressure the basketball guard when dribbling, and use a speed rush against the offensive lineman more often than a bull rush.)

• Although possessing excellent sports skills, your opponent is physically deficient in some way. A skilled player may lack strength, foot speed or quickness. If you are quicker, try to deny your opponent the opportunity to use a skill. Against an exceptional offensive scorer, for instance, try to defend this opponent before they receive the ball by denying the pass. In racquet sports like tennis, try to move your opponent around the court side to side, forward and back, opening the court for an eventual winner. In the football example above, use the bull rush against the offensive lineman who has quick feet and good technique, but lacks strength.

• Your opponent relies too much on his or her physical athleticism. Some athletes ignore (or are unaware of) good tactics because they typically win contests through physical talent alone. Try to counter any athletic or physical advantage with a compensating game strategy and tactics. A good example is the “Rope a Dope” boxing strategy used by Muhammad Ali to sap George Foreman’s punching power over the course of their famous fight.

• Although athletic, your opponent is either not well-conditioned or possesses less endurance than you. Similar to the previous item—but in this case an athlete is physically ill-equipped for a longer, tougher contest. Against this type of opponent, you try to survive the beginning onslaught, knowing that over the length of the contest the tide will turn as your endurance prevails.

• Your opponent loves a certain style of play, but does not easily adapt to other styles. Some athletes love “pace.” If you hit a tennis ball to them hard, they return it harder. Against these opponents, mix up your shots. Hit some balls soft and high, others hard and low, add some spin, change locations. If you’re a baseball pitcher, throw in some changeups against a good fastball hitter. Sometimes it’s not one style that works, but the constant changing of style that wins the day.

Here's an example from my own past that illustrates the last item. When I played tennis as a junior in high school, I had the opportunity to watch the deciding set of an important match in which our second singles player was struggling. Although Jay was an excellent player with smooth strokes, his opponent seemed to have figured out his game. Jay's opponent loved pace and was crushing his return at every opportunity. It seemed Jay had little chance to win.

In utter frustration, Jay changed his tactics—he began to serve underhand. He hit the ball upward in a looping arc so that when it came down in the service box, it bounced high. Seeing the opportunity to quickly end the point, Jay’s opponent charged forward, wound up, and swung to put the ball away. But in his eagerness to end the point, Jay's opponent began to hit the service returns out of play. He struggled hitting the soft “sitter” at shoulder height.

During rallies, Jay also began to mix in lobs with regular ground strokes. I watched in disbelief as Jay’s opponent grew more and more frustrated, dumping shots into the net and spraying the ball past the end lines. As the match continued, his opponent completely lost his composure and Jay came back to win the match.

In this instance, Jay’s willingness to boldly change his tactics exposed his opponent’s inability to handle a certain style of play. Although you probably won't have to resort to such an extreme approach, keep probing your opponent to discover where his or her weaknesses lie.

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